Sweden contra Norway

I’ve been back in Sweden for a few days now. I’m sleeping much better – it must be the social democracy. But it takes a while to get re-adjusted. Hence no posts. I hope to resume soon.

We plan to go to Norway next week, following the route taken by one of my historical subjects, Samuel Laing the Elder, in the 1830s. (See http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03468759850115936?src=recsys.) Laing was an Orcadian travel writer – among other things; he was also a kelp farmer and translator of one of the Norse sagas – who lived and farmed briefly in Levanger, and published an admiring account of contemporary radical Norway. He then followed this with a brief visit to Sweden, recounted in a second book, which painted that country as the polar opposite to Norway: aristocratic- and church-dominated, morally corrupt – he made great use of illegitimacy statistics – and entirely bereft of self-sufficiency and enterprise. Naturally, the Swedes objected. (Their ambassador complained formally to Lord Palmerston.)

I made my study of Laing’s works some time before I came to experience Sweden for myself. Luckily I didn’t allow them to influence my view of the latter. (Please note, Migrationsverket. I’m still waiting for you to approve my citizenship application.) Next week I can put his judgment of our neighbours to the test; as well as visiting the most northerly Romanesque/Gothic cathedral in Europe, Trondheim – I’m really looking forward to that – and some spectacular scenery. I’ve been warned about the food. (When I complain about Swedish cuisine, they always reply: ‘Ah, but Norwegian is even worse‘.)

More serious posts to follow.

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